We are at the end on the year and about to usher in the New Year. Many are excited about what this year will offer. While many setting their priorities for this coming year, I wonder what percentage of these reflect positively about marriage.
When I mentioned to one couple that marriage is hard work, their response was quick. “No Pastor! Marriage is about give-and-take." But I believe this is where the hard work begins. The taking may be easy, but what are we willing to give?
Although it involves hard work, marriage is always worth it. Our ability to invest time, love and effort become great stepping stones or habits to a fulfilling, long-lasting relationship.
A couple’s relational habits have a huge impact on the kind of marriage and family they are going to have together. Developing good habits take time and effort. Such habits must strengthen a couple’s common pursuits. The stronger the common agreement areas, the healthier and energetic will be the marriage.
Discover common interests: There's nothing wrong with husbands and wives having different likes and dislikes based on their unique personalities, talents, and experiences. This is what sets each person apart and makes their contribution significant. However, when we see these differences as threats, we open the door for competitions and fights.
Developing common pursuits can decrease conflict and strengthen a couple’s synergy team spirit. Common pursuits deepen a couple’s friendship, intimacy, and connection. Marriages don’t just become successful because they had no challenges. Differences and challenges must come as opportunities to grow the resilience of a couple.
Talk about everything: Although most couples agree on the importance of communication in marriage, what kind of communication is important and necessary in marriage? Communication must remain open, free and honest.
When we start communicating on a need basis instead of building a healthy environment for a free exchange of information, we lock ourselves in compartments where secrets abound. Each spouse should aim at keeping a two-way connection for conversation at all times. When we learn to do this, we are able to increase the level of trust, emotional and physical connectivity.
Determine your priorities: Prioritising the marriage in an era of automation is becoming a challenge that is killing many well-intended marriages.
As career people, one can tell you real priorities by looking your calendar of activities to see what takes most of your time; and your chequebook to see where the money is being spent.
Some of the priorities that need to be set include: setting aside a regular “we time”; growing a “culture of gratitude”; avoiding building judgments on mere assumptions; discovering your spouse’s love language; avoiding unrealistic expectations; and giving each other unconditional love.
Build a partnership: In business, by combining complementary skills sets and sharing expenses, partners can build a successful business. In like manner, part of building a consultative marriage is seeking to involve your partner in key daily decisions.
There is nothing as bad as feeling isolated and ignored in a relationship. According to an article I once read online, business partners have to manage their day-to-day expenses and overheads, while keeping their stress and egos in check.
Being a true partnership, a lack of balance can cause the whole company to collapse. This means, choices about where to make investments, how to prepare a budget, family faith and values, and career opportunities — where possible, should not be made without discussion.
This healthy habit of going to one another for advice or counsel shows your partner that their opinion is valued, respected and that they, too, have a say in your family matters.
Be aware of the pitfalls: No one is perfect. We also live in a world that is not perfect. To build a marriage partnership that works, one must avoid certain potential pitfalls like: failing to make joint investments into the marriage, keeping faithfulness to the agreements of the partnership, and a willingness to the pay the price.
In an ideal world, your partner is honest, trustworthy and full of integrity and will never hurt you by their actions. However, truthfully speaking, you can never be such a partners. therefore, extending each other grace to grow and improve is key to growth. When our roles and responsibilities are clearly defined they help bring sanity in the relationship.
Make intelligent choices: It is important to know the person you are dating. Do your due diligence by applying intelligence to choices and decisions.
Too often, may partners come to discover things about their spouses that they should have known before they went into marriage. Imagine the sickening feeling of coming to discover that your partner was broke and ridden with debts years into the marriage. This is what kills the trust and instead creates friction and fights.
In relationships, we get what we see. Many make the mistake of thinking that they can change someone once they get married. To the contrary, we only have the power to change ourselves. In relationships, hopes and facts are miles apart. If your spouse is a control freak when you are dating, don’t expect them to be different when you commit.
My wife is always angry and bitter
I have been married for over 20 years. God blessed us with four children; three who are now adults and a teen. We serve in church ministry. My problem is that my wife is bitter about everything. Sometimes her complaints and bitterness makes me very angry, and I become resentful, leading me to think of retaliating. I need your counsel. Regards, JL.
Let me start by wishing you a happy New Year. At 20 years in marriage, there is plenty to celebrate about, while at the same time there are things that have happened that one would regret that they happened.
In most cases, marriage is a mixed bag of potatoes. I would encourage you to take time and be grateful for the good that you have seen in your relationship these 20 years. Let this season remind you of God’s sacrifice for mankind. May be that will give you the same peace of mind to be gracious and kind towards the good you have had together.
The challenges you have faced in the years past should not become the lens through which you view each other.
We all fail, make mistakes and deserve a second chance to make it right. It should be a blessing, I would assume, that the two of you being committed Christians and serve at church should allow your faith to be a point of reference. Faith should be the strongest bond that holds you two together. Your faith is what birth your values, beliefs and practices.
It is apparent that the fruit of your belief in God is lacking. Due to this, the two of you are now getting caught up in cycles of a wife who is complaining and bitter; with a man who is being driven to anger and desire for revenge.
Being Christians, a great place to start would be to check your behaviour against God’s Word. What does the Word of God say about the attitude you hold about each other? Because God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The Bible reminds us that since no one has ever seen God, whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
When I measure myself against such powerful words, my anger has to melt in the presence of such love. Being Christians, God calls you to show fruit that is in keeping with your confession of love towards others.
Since love is known to be persevering, kind, and long-suffering, you need to deal with your anger towards her and allow your love to melt her indifference away.
What then should you do? In such circumstances as the ones you face, it is easier for you to return evil for evil. However, all this would do would be to fuel the fights and keep the marriage on the edge of collapse.
Audrey Hepburn has developed the H-E-A-L (Hear — Empathise — Act — Love) technique to repair damaged relationships.
He notes that, spouses need to make an effort to stay mentally present, tear down their defences so that they can listen.
Hearing your partner should lead us to empathise with their feelings by seeking to understand what is going on beneath the surface. Empathy is only complete when it leads us to take action.
These actions can range from helping with issues in the home that irritate her to asking her how you can support her. Being practical in showing your love expresses feelings of value and respect.